Near the Col du Bentarte

Clothing ~ Waterproof Rain Jacket

Mountain Hardwear™ Stimulus™ Jacket – 199 grams

I wore the Mountain Hardwear™ Stimulus™ Jacket throughout my 2009 walk across France and Spain. This jacket is one of the reasons I love my “ultralight hobby” because I first read about it in an airline in-flight magazine. (Never stop looking for solutions.)

Mountain Hardwear Stimulus Rain Jacket

It’s a true “minimalist” jacket that still has everything I really need. Totally waterproof! MH really pushed the envelope here, with innovative design, materials, and construction. It doesn’t have every popular feature available (but heavier) on other jackets, like underarm vents, but I didn’t miss them. Another means of saving weight is the absence of a hood. I always where my Tilley Air-flow hat, rain or shine, and I don’t like the way hoods restrict your view, so this is a real plus for me. The Stim does have an extended tail that really helps keep the water out.

: : : TIP >>> Mountain Hardwear also makes the Stimulus Rain Hat, which at 67 grams, is 28 grams (1 ounce) lighter than my Tilley, and totally waterproof. If you’re interested, you can check it out at Amazon. Hmmn… I’m very, very, tempted. Let me know if you’ve tried one. * * *

At just 170 to 210 grams (6 to 7.4 oz), depending on size, it’s an incredibly high-performance rain shell at an amazingly low weight. Another advantage is that it’s light enough to use just as a wind jacket. I’ve had no abrasion problems from the backpack shoulder straps, or elsewhere, although the jacket back got a little discolored by the gray foam sleeping mat I carried in my Gossamer Gear Murmur™ pack.

The Stimulus was introduced in Mountain Hardwear’s 2007 clothing line. It’s still unmatched by anything I can find. They’re hard to get sometimes but there’s usually some source online. If you can find one – Grab It! They run a bit snug, so factor in under layers. I initially ordered my usual size Large, but found the XL a better fit. Light as it is, I was still able to trim 11 grams here and there, and ended up with a 199 gram (7 ounce) rain jacket. That’s light!

The Stimulus isn’t actually the very lightest rain shell – Frogg Toggs are, but I find the Froggs too baggy, too easy to puncture, and too delicate. A lot of wilderness backpackers like them, though.

Bottom line: I’m always looking, but short of some new discovery, on my next longwalk, I’ll definitely carry my trusty Mountain Hardwear Stimulus Jacket. In March. 2010, I bought a second one as a replacement. This is the kind of often hard-to-find clothing that’s best to snatch up when you can, if you’re a serious gram-shaver.

: : : Highly recommended by Longwalking. – SM

Good sources for the Mountain Hardwear Stimulus include:

For Men: Altrec, and Moosejaw.

For Women: Altrec, Moosejaw, and REI.

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